Photo via PEI Humane Society Facebook
Jennifer Harkness knew the P.E.I. Humane Society was getting a large donation a couple weeks before the news broke.
She’d spoken with the anonymous donor a couple times on the phone about the society’s needs and projects.
Then they met in person.
They told her the gift would be enough to complete the society’s Paw Print capital campaign to expand and renovate facilities.
She didn’t know it would be $1.1 million.
“It’s a pretty important gift and it means a lot to us. And I think it means a lot to them too.”
Harkness manages development and communications for the society, so she oversees fundraisers. The unusual donation makes a big difference, she said.
“It offered a lot of relief to all of us. It’s difficult fundraising, and then Covid. Especially with the stress on businesses, we had to cancel some large fundraisers.”
The Humane Society is a nonprofit, so 30 percent of its million-dollar budget comes from fundraising and donations.
The rest is from service contracts with the provincial and greater Charlottetown area governments. The contracts cover animal protection staff and vehicles, while the donations handle things like overhead expenses, renovations, and vet fees.
Without public-held charity events this year, fundraising is different, she said.
“Trying to find ways that we could raise that money, while also making sure we continued to raise money for our operations at a very critical time, was difficult.”
People who give to the Humane Society can specify how they want their money spent, she said.
“Every dollar that was donated, the donor said ‘I want to support this project,’ so it’s really donor directed.”
The donor understood the project’s needs and wanted to give enough to see it through, she said.
However, because donors specify their intent, the society still has to raise money in other ways, Harkness said.
“We do still have to raise our operation budget every year too,” she said.
“So we’re trying to raise money for operations and animal care – that is continuous and those costs continue to go up – and then we’re also trying to renovate our shelter.”
Donors have wanted to support both revenue streams, she said.
With last week’s donation, the Paw Print capital campaign can move on to its most expensive phase. The process took three years.
“We’re renovating our current shelter and the next phase of the project is our animal care space,” she said.
This involves relocating the shelter for an entire year. The renovations will bring in new, important amenities and services, Harkness said.
“So we’ll see new dog kennels in the new building. We’re going to be adding the surgery suite which we don’t currently have. We’re going to have a whole new H-Vac system, proper heating and cooling, hot water.”
Every gift the organization receives is special, whether its $5 or $1 million, Harkness said.
“Of course, the larger amount makes a really big impact, but it all adds up.”
And everybody who gives, gives from the heart, she said.
“They’re doing it because they believe in the organization and the work we’re doing and they trust us.”